Can He use me too?

Can He use me too?

I’ve served as an ambassador for Christ in two countries overseas twice in short term trips and once in vocational ministry for a longer period.

I am not a big-shot theologian from some fancy seminary.

I am an ordinary person.

I struggle with temptations like anyone else.

I often become tongue-tied and suffer from a slight social awkwardness (the exact degree may vary based on who you ask).

It’s okay.

I’ve learned to embrace it.

I state my flaws because I do not wish to give the impression that I walked around other countries with a silver tongue, quoting scripture and thumping bystanders with my biblical rhetoric. However, God did use me, a weak individual (2 Cor. 12:9) incapable of right action without Him, to glorify His name by empowering me to share the good news about Jesus among the nations.

And He can use you, too.

I recall a man visiting my church talking about his work with some tribe off in the middle of who-knows-where and me telling God “not for me” when I was sixteen. Six years later, God said, “Yes, for you.” However, my mind and heart had changed to where I wanted to go. Emphatically, I prayed, Lord, send me (Isa. 6:8) daily. But, how did that transition happen?

At an early age, I heard and knew that God loved me. He died for me (John 3:16). He paid for my mistakes so I could be right with Him. He came back from the dead (Rom 10:9) so I would one day rise again, too. I did nothing to earn salvation, but received it as a gift through faith (Eph. 2:8-9. But… these facts, theses immutable truths as I understood them, did not impact my life. Why?

Well, I remained spiritually immature for many years (1 Cor. 3).  As the Pharisees, I did right for the sake of right. When struggling with sin, I ran aimlessly. Not towards Christ, but to functional saviors like video games, food, and running… anything to keep from plunging into the same pitfalls and patterns that would lead to sin. Anything but God. Anything but Christ. Because I could overcome anything on my own sheer force of will. Oh, how wrong was I?

Although in many respect s I had abandoned God, he did not abandon me.  At eighteen, I met several individuals who truly loved the Lord and delighted in Him and His word. They were weird.

And, I wanted to be just like them.

 

In the time that followed, I found something that eluded me until that point, Community. These young men and women implored me to seek God daily through prayer, scripture, accountability, and encouragement.  And I did. And I experienced more growth then ever prior.

Gradually, God worked on my heart and liberated me from my addictions (note the plural tense).  Christ set me free (Gal 5) through His word, His Spirit, and His body (Community). Christ molded me through this process to be more like Him. It was not easy. It was not immediate. It was often painful. And it took time.  Ultimately, God changed my heart to be more like His and redirected my path in life. Though I had plans and ambitions for my future, those changed. Not to say God wrecked my dreams, but that my heart’s desire changed. Just as a friend mentored me (2 Tim 2:2), I wished to disciple others as Jesus commanded all believers to do in the Great Commission (Mat. 28:19).

Jesus radically altered my reality.

God used me to glorify him and make him known among the nations on the far side of the world three times, despite my ordinary struggles, my brokenness, my bitterness, and despite me. And I endeavor to continue to be more like Him and to grow His Kingdom. Even though I often fumble over my own words, I can still have confidence when sharing the good news of Jesus because the creator of the universe commanded me to do so.

Jesus overcame me. He overcame the grave. And he can certainly overcome you. If nothing else, let my testimony provide a defense for his power to heal the broken and to use the ordinary to grow His kingdom by making disciples of all nations.

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Chris Chilton serves as a team member with 1520 Unreached in Austin, TX and as a member of Wells Branch Community Church. Thank you for all your work Chris.

Would you do it for a Friend?

Would you do it for a Friend?

We Christians know the Great Commission. We know Jesus commanded his disciples to reach the ends of the earth and make disciples of all the nations. And if we’re not kidding ourselves, we know that command was for our generation, just as it was for theirs.

So why is there an epidemic of complacency among Christians today?

The question is, of course rhetorical. We live in an era where the idols of comfort and entertainment rule. Facing the dangers and hardships of missions seems less appealing than ever to Christians, and so we excuse ourselves by believing that lie that missions are for someone else. Rather than concern ourselves with the gravity of the subject, we write it off, saying that the work is for some supersaint who has a “gift” for it (I know; I’ve been there). For those of us caught up in the business of our own lives, the Great Commission as a command sounds burdensome. That’s why I offer an alternative perspective.

In John 15:12, Jesus told his disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his mater is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” In saying this, Jesus changed the nature of the relationship between God and man. Despite Christ’s superiority, despite His complete entitlement to the term “Master”, He did not want his disciples to obey Him on the basis of authority alone. He wanted to establish a partnership, one in which He and His disciples could work together to achieve God’s ultimate plan. He called His disciples friends. The ramifications of that declaration are staggering, because the closeness implicit in the term “friendship” was something few had ever experienced with God up to that point. Here, Jesus offered it freely.

That, to me, sheds new light on what Jesus prayed two chapters later in John 17:20-24, “I do not ask for the world these only, but for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one … so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” 

Before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father, baring his heart and letting his desires be known. Other scriptural evidence leads me to believe that Jesus was also aware that His words would be written down for future generations, which means that when Jesus bared His heart to the Father, He was baring it to us as well. He revealed his heart’s desire to us whom he calls his friends that we would know and share in His longing. That longing is for all who would believe to be brought into relationship with Him.

One of the factors that separates Christianity from the world’s religions is the relationship God has established with us. We do not earn salvation by obeying rules; we are gifted salvation through belief and faith, and the relationship established through God’s love motivates us to want to do His will. In the same way, we do not obey His command to reach the world because we must, but because it is something He greatly desires, and as His friends, should we not desire it too?

If your best friend said to you, “I’ve known you for so long, but I’ve never met your parents; I would really love to meet them,” would you not introduce them? How much more should we want to do this for our Savior? Missions aren’t just about following orders; they’re about pursuing the very heart of God. The more we understand God’s heart the better we know Him the more we will want to partner with Him to fulfill His deepest desires. That partnership comes in many different forms: for some, it means becoming a missionary to an unreached people group; for others, it means committing to support and prayer. No matter how busy we are or where we find ourselves in life, we can always be on mission with God.

Maybe you’re too busy to embrace obedience to a command you aren’t sure is for you. But would you do it for a friend?

-Tyler Huggins, 1520 Unreached